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Analysing Google Play to find a profitable app idea – Part 1

alexhyettdev profile image Alex Hyett Originally published at on ・3 min read

Maybe like me you are thinking of dipping your toe into mobile development. You may have even started your journey on becoming the next app millionaire but are struggling to make any money from your creation. So how do you come up with an idea for an app that will actually be profitable? The only way to make a significant amount of money with mobile development is to get a large number of downloads and when I say large I am talking millions of downloads.

Candy Crush Saga made a whopping $1.88 billion (£1.24 billion) in 2013

The majority of apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store are free and generate their revenue from adverts and in app purchases. Unless you were living under a rock last year, you have probably heard about the overnight sensation that was Flappy Bird. Flappy Bird got 50 million downloads and was reportedly making $50,000 (£33,000) a day all from one banner advert. If you think that is a lot, Candy Crush Saga made a whopping $1.88 billion (£1.24 billion) in 2013. You will find there are very few, if any, paid mobile games that are bringing in this sort of revenue.

Most people will stop here, they start seeing £ or $ signs and spend the next 6 months writing their hit mobile app. Launch day comes, they get all their friends and family to download their new app and on the first day they get 100 downloads. The next day they only get 20 downloads and a week later nobody is downloading their app at all. There are some reports that say as much as 60% of apps are never downloaded or updated again. I don’t want to spend 6 months (or longer) writing an app if there is no market for it. To try and solve this issue and come up with an idea for a profitable app, I have been analysing data from Google Play.

I wanted to find out what apps people are downloading to see if there were any popular genres that consistently get high downloads. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that the majority of apps, with high download numbers are games. If you plan on generating income from ad revenue and continual in-app purchases you need your app to be engaging, addictive and shareable. You can make a “must have” tool but if users only open it for 10 seconds to perform a task you aren’t going to get any money from ad revenue.

A lot of these games use psychology typically found in casino games to keep users playing and spending money. It is quite common to get through the first few levels of a game with ease only for the game to get progressively harder as you go on. At this point you are offered diamonds, coins, or gems at a discounted rate for real money. As you are already hooked on the game the low cost of an in app purchase can seem preferable to retrying level 122 for the 65th time.

Over the next few posts I will show you my results from analysing data from Google Play to find out what types of apps have been downloaded the most. I will be looking at free games, paid games and paid apps to try and find some of the most profitable apps out at the moment.

Update: The next post in this series is ready to read now.

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